‘The Motive’ Ending, Explained – What was The Defense Lawyer Hiding?

A 13-year-old Israeli boy kills his family of four in the coldest manner, and not a single person was able to find the motive behind the murder. This line is enough to send shivers down your spine, and The Motive, a 2021 Netflix documentary, tries to look into the intricate details just to find a rationale behind everything that happened on that fateful evening. The incident shook the nation, and they had never seen such a case ever. The team of psychiatrists, doctors, and even the investigators were at a loss of words when asked about why he did it.


‘The Motive’ Plot Summary – The Chronology of Events

Avi Samuel, an investigator, got a call from dispatch around 1 a.m. that shots had been heard in a neighborhood named Ein Karem in Jerusalem. He went inside the two-story house from where the shots had been heard. Avi saw an M16 (assault rifle) kept on the table. He went further inside the house to find a couple shot in their bed. Seeing the bodies, he realized that they had been shot point-blank in their sleep itself. There were two more bodies of girls in the bedrooms above. The press started to gather, and the officials and experts came to examine the crime scene.

Suddenly, somebody told them that a member had survived the attack and was in the neighbor’s house. They saw a 13-year-old boy walk towards them, stoic in his expressions and staunch in his intentions.


The first Interrogation and a Revelation

The boy told Avi Samuel that a burglar had come inside and shot his parents and sisters. Avi told him how it couldn’t have been a burglary as the evidence pointed otherwise. The boy was intelligent, and he knew that there was no point hiding it now. He told Avi Samuel that he would tell everything to him only on one condition, that he let him talk to his mother. His mother was dead, but when he had left her, he saw the blood spurting out, giving him a false belief that she had survived. The investigator agreed, and the boy told him that he had shot his family members.

But then there was a catch. He told them that he remembered a scene from a movie named Papillion where an inmate had killed his whole family. The boy said he heard the bells from the church and something told him to get up. He came downstairs from his bedroom and fired the shots. So basically, he was saying that though he was of sane mental health, at that moment, he was not himself. The case was first of its kind, and no precedence was there to draw any kind of reference.

The Motive Summary Ending Explained 2021 Israeli Documentary Series Netflix
Netflix

The Battle of IQs

Hiam Siani, the forensic expert, narrates how the investigator asked him if he felt guilty, and he replied that why would he when he has not murdered only. The defense lawyer, Yossi Arnon, knew that his case would significantly benefit if the prosecutors were not able to find any motive. So he maintained in the court, and the kid was sentenced to 9 years of prison and was later given parole.

Prof. Shmuel Tiano, a psychiatrist who had a session with the boy, believes that he was not prepared to deal with such a case, and had it been today, things would have been different, and he would have had a totally different perspective. He was too calm and relaxed for a boy who had lost his family, which confused everyone. He didn’t show any kind of remorse. The boy was taken to the graves of his parents, and he didn’t shed one tear. It was like a battle of IQs where he was in an intellectual war with the whole team of experts. He was not only winning but doing that convincingly.


‘The Motive’ Ending, Explained – What was The Defense Lawyer Hiding?

Yossi Arnon tells the interviewer that he knew certain facts, which he believes to be true in all probability. He says that if we know about it, then there would be no confusion. But he chooses not to speak about it as he wanted the crime to be motiveless, as it helps his cause.

There was an alternate theory too. The boy hinted towards the fact that the father was abusive in nature, and his sisters had to undergo his wrath. The investigators did not find any meat in this story and disposed of it as being just a convenient diversion that the boy wanted to create.

To date, there is no concrete theory so as to why he killed his parents. The case is still fresh in the minds of people who were a part of it. It still bemuses them. They might be inclined towards one or the other theories, but what happened stays a mystery.


The Motive is a 2021 Israeli Documentary Series created by Tali Shemesh and Asaf Sudri. The four-episode limited series is streaming on Netflix.

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Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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